Dodge Holiday Classic
Arena • Minneapolis, Minn.
Harvard vs. Northern Michigan, 6 p.m. ET
Minnesota vs. Merrimack, 9 p.m. ET
Minnesota’s game will be at 9 p.m. ET; the
other game, regardless of whether it is the championship
or third-place game, will be at 6 p.m. ET
rematch of the 2003 NCAA championship game was a repeat
of sorts, with Minnesota jumping out to a 3-0 lead and beating
New Hampshire 4-2 despite 44 saves by Michael Ayers. The
Wildcats used just 19 shots on goal to beat Miami (Ohio)
3-1 in the tournament opener, while the Gophers got to the
title game via a 9-0 rout of Princeton.
before the tournament starts in Minneapolis, the combatants
in the opening game drive to St. Paul and pause for a moment
of silence at the corner of West Seventh and Kellogg, it
could be fitting inspiration for the Crimson and the Wildcats.
The site of the since-demolished St. Paul Civic Center (now
home to the Xcel Energy Center), is where both teams won
the only NCAA hockey titles in their history. Harvard beat
Minnesota 4-3 there in overtime in 1989, and two years later
Northern Michigan needed just three overtimes to best Boston
Wednesday night game between top-ranked Minnesota and unranked
Merrimack features one of the most talented Minnesotans
in college hockey, and he doesn’t wear maroon and
gold. Warriors defenseman Bryan Schmidt, who hails from
Bloomington, Minn., somehow slipped the grasp of WCHA recruiters
and ended up in North Andover. Schmidt is one of the best
two-way players in Hockey East and will see plenty of ice
time in his return to his home state. That, and the anticipated
return of offensive star Brent Gough, who suffered a broken
arm early in the season, gives the upset-minded Warriors
the ammo they need to at least be competitive.
tournament opener features three of the more intriguing
goalies (and three of the best goalie names) in college
hockey, with Harvard’s Dov Grumet-Morris in one net
and either Tuomas Tarkki or Bill Zaniboni in the other.
With two teams that like to move the puck playing on a big
ice sheet, two of the three will have lots of work to do.
WE SEE IT
opener should be a fun one, with two offensive-minded teams
frolicking on Mariucci Arena’s massive ice sheet.
The Wildcats are used to Olympic-size ice, so they should
feel right at home, which could be vital for a team that
is undefeated at home this season. Thus far they've been
mediocre on the road (3-4-3).
is also playing a more wide-open brand of hockey than Crimson
fans have been used to seeing in recent years and has been
a pleasant surprise in the ECACHL. And with a good-sized
contingent of fans in attendance courtesy of Harvard’s
large and active alumni association in Minnesota, the folks
from Cambridge should be comfortable. We’ll pick the
easterners to prevail in the opener.
as the Schmidt’s “local boy makes good”
story would be in the nightcap, and as vulnerable as the
Gophers defense may look with two of their top blueliners
playing at the World Juniors, and as tournament-tested as
the Warriors are (playing in four tournaments this season)
we’re not crazy enough to pick against the top-ranked
team in the nation when it’s playing on home ice.
So look for the Gophers and the Crimson in the final.
night, when the temperature is supposed to be something
minus-117 in Minneapolis, we might be more prone to pick
a shocker, especially with a battle-tested veteran like
Grumet-Morris in goal for the visitors. So we’ll go
out on a limb and say that Thursday (just like the first
Tuesday in November was) will be a good day for guys from
Massachusetts in Minnesota, with Merrimack claiming third
place and the Crimson winning the title in overtime.